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The Cathedrale St. Etienne is home to an incredible expanse of detailed stained glass that you have to see to believe.

What do you want to accomplish in France beyond seeing the Eiffel Tower in person? If your bucket list for France is running near empty, take a second to think about all the things you can do in the country that you won’t be able to do anywhere else. What makes it stand out from the rest of the European countries? Try any of these five things and you’ll leave France with a better understanding of the culture, personality and general beauty of France.

Lose yourself in a fairytale

The Loire Valley in France is full of resplendent mansions, regal castles and all sorts of medieval and renaissance chateaux. Get lost in the richness and utter elegance of the region and its castles and charming city centres. Try visiting Chateau Royal d’Amboise for your first taste of royal splendour. This particular castle was favoured by Louis 11th and Charles 7th, who grew up in luxurious settings, though later in the 19th century, much of the castle was destroyed by the then-owner, Roger Ducas. The remaining parts of the castle are fascinating, and you can tour the complex network of underground tunnels, the royal living quarters and the Chapelle St. Hubert, which is thought to house Leonardo da Vinci’s remains.

Taste authentic French cuisine

Each region has its own specialty for cuisine and regardless of where in the country you go, you are sure to be pleased by—and full from—delicious French fare. If you care to try a classic French bistro, head to Lyon and visit the attractive Bistro Pizay. The cosy atmosphere, exposed stone walls, tightly packed tables and low lighting all create the perfect ambiance as you await your meal. After that meal, don’t be afraid to try things, like the crepes anywhere in France, the fresh seafood along the coast of Marseille, the fruits from Provence and more.

Experience an architectural awakening

France is full of architectural masterpieces, and many of them pre-date the creation of France as we know it today. Throughout the countryside you’ll find strong Roman influences and many amphitheatres that are well-kept and operational to this day. While you can look at architecture anywhere in the world, the level of artistry is impeccable in the Loire Valley and beyond. In France you will find architectural oddities and stunning stained glass. To see the latter, head to the Cathedrale St. Etienne, which is the third tallest cathedral in France (behind Beauvais and Amiens). The cathedral’s claim to fame is its stained glass which is allegedly the largest expanse of it in the world. Installed from the 13th-20th centuries, the glass is illuminated day and night giving visitors a visual feast regardless of when they make it to the Cathedral.

Try Bayonne chocolate

The historic port of Bayonne, France is famous for a very good reason: namely, it is the birthplace of French chocolate and they still produce unbelievable amounts of the sweet each year. Back in the 1600s, many Spanish and Portuguese people settled in the area of the town during the Inquisition in 1609, and they brought the know-how of how to transform cocoa beans into warm and sumptuous hot chocolate. It soon took the city and then country by storm and was even introduced into court circles in the following years.

Camp beachside in Corsica

One of northern Corsica’s most isolated beaches is Plage de Saleccia, where a huge sweep of soft white sand and shimmering sea invites a visitor to set up camp and relax. If you fancy staying a few nights on this windswept beach, just bring a tent with you. There is a campsite called U Paradisu that backs directly onto this incredibly calm and natural beach. The trek to this beach is a little difficult but if you can get there, it is an experience you are sure to remember for a long time.

Want to see or do one of these things? How about all of them? Book your French holiday now and think about travel insurance as you do it. Compare travel insurance plans and find the policy that protects you and your travelling companions against the elements and the unexpected.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Jean-Pierre Dalbera